Getting Together

Blimey my blog is late again. I’m not quite sure what’s happening. My weekends seem to be so packed that I don’t seem to get round to writing on a Sunday evening.

Community Spirit

This weekend was a really important one for the community of Batley, where I have lived all my life. It was also a really important weekend for communities all over the country.  This was the weekend of the Great Get Together, where people of all different backgrounds joined together to celebrate their diversity and to recognise the things that we have in common. I loved reading the updates about the various events that were taking place and the heart warming photographs of people from all walks of life coming together.

A friend of mine wrote a really good blog about this, which I would recommend if you want to know what it was all about

https://grimois.wordpress.com/2017/06/20/why-my-great-get-together-weekend-wont-be-soured-by-events-in-finsbury-park/

As part of the “More in Common” weekend, I attended an open air service at All Saints Church, Batley with my mum and my eldest daughter. I haven’t attended church much recently, as I have felt unsure where I fit in and just exactly how I feel about my faith. However the service on Sunday was relaxed and informal. The hymns were modern and upbeat and the sun was shining. It made me really think about the fact that  whether you had the same faith as others, or any faith at all, doesn’t really matter. What is important is that we treat others with respect, kindness and as we would like to be treated.

Family Gathering

As Sunday was Father’s Day, we had a family barbeque. The sun was still shining and it was great for us to get together and have chance just to sit and chat and have some food and drinks. My mother in law and father in law couldn’t come as my mother in law has just had an operation on her knee and had just come out of hospital.

After we had eaten for some reason the women were sat inside and we began chatting about faith, beliefs, learning about different cultures and tolerance. It was really interesting to hear other peoples views and to understand that although we may not always agree with others, sometimes it is good to air your views and let other people know how you feel.

Tomorrow my eldest daughter returns to London, to start looking for work and a new house, so I wish her luck with that. It’s been wonderful to have her home, but my bank account and my healthy eating have suffered whilst she’s been at home. I’m not sure which one of us is the bad influence.

 

Damage Limitation

After eating my body weight in cake and ice cream over the last couple of weeks, I dragged myself back to slimming world tonight and unsurprisingly I had put weight on. It’s now four weeks to my eldest daughter’s graduation and youngest daughter’s 18th Birthday party, so I have had to give myself a stern talking to and get myself back on track. I have made myself a healthy breakfast and lunch to take to work tomorrow. I realise how much money I’ve spent buying unhealthy food over the last few weeks, so not only will it be better for my health, but also for my bank balance.

I won’t dwell on it, its done now, so I’ll draw a line under it and start again tomorrow morning with a clean slate. I’ve also booked myself in with run together tomorrow to make sure I get my exercise back on track too.

 

 

Reflecting on the good things in life

After all the sadness and unsettled feeling about the world in general, I am happy to say that I am feeling much more at peace with things this week.

A new life and new beginnings

I found out in the last couple of weeks that my lovely niece is pregnant with her first baby. She had had her first scan a couple of weeks ago and felt comfortable in sharing her good news with people. I am so happy for her and her partner and hope that everything goes well with the pregnancy.

It was also great earlier in the week when one of my lovely work colleagues brought his brand new baby son into work for everyone to see. He was a beautiful baby with lots of hair. Everyone was really pleased to see him and all the ladies wanted to have a little cuddle with him. It doesn’t seem to matter what is going on in the world, but a pregnancy or a  brand new baby always seems to bring such hope for the future. Who knows what these children will achieve in the future, or what the world may be like by the time they are adults, but for the present time they are safe and cared for by those who love them most.

A different new beginning

I was honoured to be invited to my friend’s retirement party yesterday. When I say retirement, he is only in his very early fifties, but has served with the Police for over 30 years. It was lovely to attend his celebration and to catch up with old friends and colleagues.

One of the really great things was that quite a number of the people that were there had not seen me for quite a while and were very complimentary about how I looked. I guess when you see yourself on a day to day basis, you don’t realise how much you have changed over several months. Losing a couple of stones and growing my hair a bit longer certainly surprised some people and have to say that I felt very pleased with myself. Hopefully this will now spur me on to keep up with the healthy eating and exercise.

 

All together again

Another reason to be grateful this week is that we have our eldest daughter home from university for a visit and it is nice to be together again as a whole family. She is only here for a visit and will be returning to live in London to look for work, but it is nice to have her home for even a short time. Our youngest daughter starts her new job this week and has her final exam at school next week, so I guess that it is a new beginning for both of them.

New Challenges

Whilst I was tidying out the spare room I found a notebook with a list of things that I had hoped to achieve this year. Looking through it I was pleased to say that I have completed some of them and am on the way to completing others. I now need to think about new challenges for this year and also for the years to come. My friend wants me to complete a 10k run with her, which will be a challenge as I’m only just managing the whole of Parkrun, which is 5k. In a couple of weeks I am taking part in a 6k run in memory of Jo Cox and will also be singing with Batley Community Choir at the run (obviously not at the same time, I can’t actually speak when I run never mind sing!). We are also singing at a concert on 1st July in aid of Jo’s charities.

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

 

As life goes on

I promised myself at the start of the year that I would write a blog every week and that it should reflect on the things that I have achieved in the course of the year, making each week count , being positive and seeing a good side to things

As I started to write my blog this week, (which is late again for no apparent reason, other than I haven’t got round to doing it) there has been another terrorist attack in the UK, this time in London.

This blog has certainly been a challenge this week. I could find some lovely things to write about my week as I normally do: It was my husband’s birthday and we went out for a lovely meal and to the cinema; I visited my brother and his family and we spent a lovely weekend with them; My youngest daughter has had two interviews this week and has been offered a job and my eldest daughter has gone on holiday having finished her final year at university.

So there are a lot of good things going on in my life at this moment in time, for which I am most grateful, but it is hard not to feel sad and preoccupied with the awful things that are going on in the world and what will have to happen to change these things. Its hard to write a blog about my everyday life without it sounding trivial or unimportant.

Last week I did focus on some of the good things that came out of terrible tragedy and again this week there were amazing acts of bravery and selflessness. There were communities that stood together and refused to be divided by the acts of a small group of individuals. The concert held in Manchester to raise money and pay tribute to the people who had died or were injured was a great way of showing support and defiance.

But one mistake I did make was to read through lots of comments made on social media. I generally try to avoid reading people’s political rants and scathing comments about the emergency services or using what is going on as a platform to generate hatred, but for some reason on Saturday evening I found myself reading social media as the events unfolded in London. What had happened was shocking enough, but some people’s reactions to it were horrendous. I accept that everyone is entitled to an opinion, but I wonder whether some of these people have any heart, compassion or an ounce of intelligence to put on some of the things that they did. But then again, more fool me for wasting my energy in reading them.

So I close my blog this week with hope that there will not be another event like this in the near future, or even at any time and that those groups of people who are teaching tolerance and coming together win out over those who want to cause harm and distress to others, whether that be through their actions, lack of actions or words.

Here’s to a happy and peaceful week.

Where’s my Blog?

As this was a Bank Holiday weekend, I did think that my blog might be a day late, but for some reason it’s actually two days late. It certainly feels like this will be one of those weeks when I am constantly on the wrong day. It certainly feels like it has been a long week. There was so much going on that it was sometimes hard to believe that it all happened in a week.

A sad day for Manchester

It was shocking to wake up on Tuesday and hear the news of the terrorist attack at the concert in Manchester. You could not help but be moved and feel great sadness for those involved. As the news unfolded during the day, there were some terribly sad scenes of people who had been injured and terrified when they should have been having a safe journey home after a great night out.

I think what was also extremely important to show, was all the good deeds that came from such a terrible incident. People who helped strangers, protected their own children and other people’s children, those who took drinks and staff for the emergency services and people who gave their time and skills for free.

Whatever is behind these terrible attacks, whether we apportion blame to the individuals, a particular group or whether we blame the government doesn’t really matter. It certainly doesn’t help those involved. However those good deeds, acts of random kindness, people doing the right thing, may help Manchester, the victims and other places, where terrible things have happened, to heal and move on.

The Play That Goes Wrong

On Friday night my husband and I went to the theatre to see “The Play That Goes Wrong”. I originally booked it as I was given theatre tokens as a gift, so I decided that I would book something that I wouldn’t normally go see. I am definitely a musical theatre fan and have only ever been to see a couple of plays. I have usually found them quite interesting, but I am definitely waiting for people to burst into a song and a dance at points.

However, this play was very different. It was so funny all the way through. there were no dull moments, or waiting for something to happen, it was full on from start to finish. It was very old fashioned physical comedy. There was no real swearing or smut involved, just the occasional double entendre. It was a really good night and my sides were aching when we left the theatre, from laughing so much.

A BBQ weekend

It was really nice over the weekend to be invited to a couple of barbeques. The fist was an invite from work and it was really nice to spend the afternoon in the sunshine, with a few of the people from work, having a laugh and chatting about things other than work.

On Sunday we went to my sister in laws for a barbeque. It was a lovely still afternoon and quite warm. We spent the afternoon chatting as a family and also being entertained by my niece’s five year old step son, who was a bundle of energy and kept us all on our toes.

Back on the plan

I started back on the healthy eating this week and felt much better for it. I’ve also carried on walking and doing a bit of running, so certainly feel back in the swing of things. On Saturday I went to park run, but did a different one to the one that I usually do. It was a really lovely run in Oakwell Country Park. We used to go there a lot when the girls were younger. The grounds there are beautiful and it makes me realise how many lovely places there are that are so close to home that we get out of the habit of visiting.

 

 

California Dreaming- The End – For Now

And so our lovely journey through California is almost over. We fly back to England tomorrow. I feel as if I have been away for months. Although I have missed my family, particularly my girls, I can say that I have enjoyed every single minute.

It would be hard to pick my favourite places or the things that I have enjoyed most, as everything has been so different. Some of the highlights have been; seeing sea life in its natural habitat rather than in zoos or theme parks, the coastline of California which is beautiful, the historic and iconic places we have visited, the food and drink which has been plenty and varied, the people that we have met along the way who on the whole have been friendly, helpful and fascinated with the fact that we come from England.

I’d like to say a big thank you to our friends for making great travel companions. For all the organisation, emails and phone calls and messages that it took to arrange this trip.

Thank you to my husband for driving the nearly 1000 miles and doing a cracking job as well as taking the majority of the photos that I’ve put on my blog.

Also to my brother in law and sister in law, partly because they helped us financially when my husband was off work much longer than anticipated when he had an operation, but mostly because whilst we’ve been on holiday they went to my eldest daughter’s final show at university, standing in for us. I can’t say how much I appreciated this.

Thank you for reading my California blog and making comments. I hope you have all enjoyed it. I’ve certainly enjoyed writing it and it will be a great reminder of all the things that we have done on our journey.

I’ll be returning to my usual blog next week, but hopefully will be writing about some further travels in the future.

Oh What A Night!

I love it when a plan comes together

So after six months of planning this weekend was my fiftieth birthday party. I knew exactly how I wanted it to go. When people had asked me what I wanted for my birthday, there wasn’t anything that I wanted more than to have all my friends and family together in one place. It’s not that I wanted to be the centre of attention, or to show off, just to see everyone enjoying themselves, laughing, dancing and singing and to create the type of memories that money cannot buy.

Viva Las Vegas

I chose a Las Vegas theme for my party. Some people that know me well were a little surprised at this as I’m not really the bright lights, loud, brash and over the top type of person. Years ago I was the type of person who would have said that I wasn’t particularly bothered about travelling to the USA, but then we took our girls to Florida and all that changed. I loved the customer service, the attention to detail and the way that everything is just so much “bigger and better” than anywhere else. After this I was hooked and shortly afterwards visited Las Vegas for our wedding anniversary and I absolutely loved it! We returned again for our 25th Anniversary and it was just as magical the second time around.

I thin the reason that I love it some much is that it is just so not me. I love the countryside, walking, evenings in with friends, but there is also a side of me that loves a party and just having those moments where you can let your hair down and just be a little bit wild and slightly bonkers.

Worth the work

So I had a venue, got a DJ booked, I’d ordered a casino, arranged the catering and two ofmy eldest daughters lovely friends were coming to sing for me. I made table decorations, bunting and ordered sweets to make a candy buffet. I had decided on my playlist, which I have talked about on my blog previously.

I made my own invitations and sent them out, after writing, rewriting and writing again my guest list. There were loads more people I wanted to invite, but was limited for numbers. I managed to narrow it down to 120 people. I wanted the people there who had played a big part in my life and who would know how much that night meant to me.

Friday was spent with my youngest daughter making mountains of cupcakes. On Saturday the hairdresser did my hair at 930am. I was convinced that it would be a mess by the evening, but fate smiled on me, there was no wind, rain or drizzle and by evening it still looked the same.

My eldest daughter and her friends arrived safely and on time on the train from London. My youngest daughters friend came and did my makeup for me and we were ready to go.

At the venue, just before people arrived, I suddenly had that moment of doubt that it would all go horribly wrong and I started to panic. Everyone was telling me to calm down and that it would be fine. Once people started to arrive I started to calm down and enjoy myself. And boy did I enjoy myself!

It couldn’t have been better

The evening started with my daughter’s friends singing some swing songs. They were amazing! I haven’t named them on her, but hopefully with their permission I will share some of the video footage on a future blog. When the boys got me up to dance with them I was way out of my comfort zone, but I embraced it, went with it and actually enjoyed being the centre of attention. As a surprise for me my husband and eldest daughter sang a duet – Me and my shadow, which was so good.

 

Afterwards we had superb food and the casino was open. People were up dancing and we had table magic. My lovely brother in law took loads of photos.

I danced all night and I have blisters on my feet to prove it!

I didn’t drink too much. early in the evening my youngest daughter was trying to get me to drink jaeger bombs, but I wanted to enjoy the evening and still remember it in the morning! However she made me promise that at 1130pm I would drink a jaeger bomb, which I did! I think this was my first one ever and I quite enjoyed it.

I was so happy to see everyone enjoying themselves and I have to say that it was everything that I wanted it to be and more!

Sometimes you can plan things and they don’t end up being what you expected, or don’t make you as happy as you think they will, but on this occasion I was overwhelmed with how wonderful it felt to have such superb family and friends, who all joined in with the partying and many of whom embraced the theme by coming in fancy dress.

I hope that everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!

The morning after!

This isn’t a tale of regret or hangovers!

Sunday morning dawned and was a beautiful sunny day. We had not gone to bed until about 230am, but I was wide awake at 630am, I think it was all the sugar!

I sat out in the garden, in the sunshine, with a cup of tea and waited for everyone else to wake up. We had six of my eldest daughter’s friends staying over and also my youngest daughter’s best friend. It was so great to have a house full of young people again.

I cooked breakfast for everyone and we sat out in the garden most of the day, eating sweets and cupcakes. I also broke one of the golden rules of our family and opened all my presents, even though my birthday isn’t until later this week.

Later in the day we went to see my daughter and her friends off at the station and then went to my brother in laws house to look through all the photos, which were superb and will save those brilliant memories for me.

I have to say it has been the best birthday weekend ever. I feel so lucky to have all these wonderful people around me and want to thank each and everyone one of you who made this such a happy and memorable birthday!

 

 

 

 

 

 

An ordinary life

A good week to be me

There are those days or weeks when you feel at odds with the world and can fall out with everyone including yourself. Then there are those times where you feel that all is well between yourself and the world and have a sense of peace and calm.

This week has been a good one, where I have managed to get on with most people and have quite liked myself too. This might sound a bit odd, but there are some times when I overthink what I have said or done and feel bad about myself and end up not liking myself very much. However this week has not been like that. Friends or relatives may tell you differently, but I feel that it’s been a good week to be me.

There have been no great events this week, no particular defining moments, but sometimes life is like that and maybe its just appreciating the simple things in life that makes all the difference

A sense of achievement

I finished some work for my  Training Qualification this week, which has taken just short of a year. This has been completed as part of my job and it feels good to get it out of the way. Part of this was reflecting on training that I had done and assignments that I had completed. When you begin to reflect in one area of your life it kind of follows on that you do it in other areas of your life too, so I suppose I was in a reflective kind of mood. To really look at yourself, see what you did well, what was not so good and how you can improve is quite difficult sometimes. I certainly concentrate on what went badly and “beat myself up”, so it’s definitely good for me to look at the things that I do well, see the successes, rather than just concentrating on the failures.

It’s the little things

I was fortunate this week to spend a few days working in London. This was good for several reasons, not least because I spent time with one of the lovely ladies that I work with, but also because I got to see my eldest daughter a couple of times. One evening we went across to the university to watch the pantomime, which she had helped choreograph. Another evening we went out for cocktails.

Both were lovely evenings and very timely, as my daughter had been having a few rough days and was not quite as upbeat as she sometimes is. After a lovely chat, a hug and some reassurance, she was back to her normal self. No matter how grown up you are, you just sometimes need your mum. As an added bonus, as I came home her dad went to see her, so she got to spend time with him too.

Whilst my husband was away on Friday there was just me and my youngest daughter at home and we had pizza and a glass of wine whilst watching a film. It was lovely just to sit and chat and spend some time together. Sometimes life just seems to pass by so quickly and we forget that these little things can be really important.

If I should die before I wake

There have been some times in my life, not after great achievements or life changing events, but quite often after a family get together, a holiday, or just a period of time when things seem to be settled and all is well in my own little world. On these occasions I have said “If I die tonight, I would die happy”. My youngest daughter says I’m morbid. It’s not meant to be morbid, but just that feeling of knowing that as the day ends I am content with the hand that I have been dealt and couldn’t ask for more.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all felt like this at the end of everyday?

 

 

 

 

One week down

A good start to the year

So the first week of the new year has gone quite well. I’ve managed to stick to the healthy eating plan. I joined Slimming World as I know that this has worked for me in the past, but my staying power when the chips (or cakes) are down is not so good. I went for an induction at the local gym. My youngest daughter already goes there and she asked me to go with her, so this was a good incentive. I was also persuaded to join a local run together group and surprisingly really enjoyed running in the cold and dark. I’ve been out walking most days, so all in all a good start.

Now all I have to do is keep it up!

Writing the blog is certainly helping as it means that I have to be honest with myself about whether I have kept to my goals or not.

Still planning

Looking to the future, I’ve booked another week away for later in the year and am starting to plan some fundraising events. I’m also making more plans for my birthday party in April. When I first started planning it seemed such a long way away, but now it’s only three months which is pretty scary really.

A great family weekend

My niece had her engagement party this week. It was a really great night spent with friends and family. It was so lovely to see people of all different ages having a great time dancing, karaoke singing and generally laughing and chatting together. Whilst the “older” ones amongst us took a well earned rest from the festivities and sat chatting, we watched the young folks and conversation turned to how lucky we are that our children have grown up to be such pleasant individuals and that we should be really proud of them. Despite us all having our moments of doubt, worry and frustration, they really are a decent bunch of young people. Although my friend did make the point that “that’s us, we did that” and I guess she’s right.

Time moves on

I had a fleeting visit from our eldest daughter who came home overnight to celebrate with the family for my niece’s engagement. It was lovely to have her home, but strangely  it’s quite normal for her not to be there anymore. It’s been over two years since my husband and I left her in the student halls and I went into work the next day and sobbed my heart out. Now I can wave her goodbye on the train and drive home without crying. I guess that’s progress! I may however take a small step backwards when our youngest daughter decides to leave too.